Travels with an Eriba
The Causeway Coast
T he Causeway Coastal Drive is commonly regarded as one of the best. The whole Drive runs from Belfast to Derry along a rugged and spectacular route. To date we have only mananged to explore the more westerly section from Ballycastle to Magilligan Point. (From Magilligan we also managed a day trp across to Donegal in the Republic of Ireland). Our base was inland near the small town of Dungiven.
Map of the Causeway Coast & Surrounding Countryside
The Giant's Causeway
In the footsteps of giants...
According to legend the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet.
The Causeway is an area of about 40.000 interlocking basalt columns. It’s was the result of a volcanic fissure eruption between fifty and sixty million years ago. We were lucky enough to visit the Causeway twice during our recent visit. On the first occasion, late one afternoon, the weather was somewhat wild and so the stones were rather slippery. The conditions, though, did give us the chance to capture some rather dramatic shots! On our second visit we followed one of the waymarked trails to discover more of the the features of this wonderful landscape and spent time exploring the National Trust Visitor Centre.. Fortunately, on that occasion the weather was kinder to us!
How the rocks formed
Around 50 to 60 million years ago, during the Paleocene Epoch, Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten basalt intruded through chalk beds to form an extensive volcanic plateau. As the lava cooled, contraction occurred. Horizontal contraction fractured in a similar way to drying mud, with the cracks propagating down as the mass cooled, leaving pillarlike structures, which also fractured horizontally into "biscuits".https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant%27s_Causeway
Dunluce Castle is a now-ruined medieval castle in Northern Ireland, the seat of Clan McDonnell. It is located on the edge of a basalt outcropping in County Antrim (between Portballintrae and Portrush), and is accessible via a bridge connecting it to the mainland. The castle is surrounded by extremely steep drops on either side, which may have been an important factor to the early Christians and Vikings who were drawn to this place where an early Irish fort once stood.
Down House Desmesne & Mussenden Temple
Our Visits to Downhill
We enjoyed our first visit to the National Trust property of Downhill and its environs so much that we made a second trip a fews days later. There is a great deal to explore there in the beautiful setting and in the interesting buildings. Apart from the obvious attractions of the remains of the main house and the Mussenden temple, there are great walks to be had and an interesting gatehouse at the Bishop's Gate entrance with a lovely Bog Garden nearby, to mention just a few..
"The Edifying Bishop"
Downhill began to assume its present form around 1772 when Frederick Hervey (1730-1803) - known as the Earl Bishop from his twin titles of Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry - chose this scenic site to build a country house. He was a somewhat eccentric, colourful and at times scandalous character. Apart from his house building projects (which gave him the "edifying" nickname), he also spent much of his wealth on constructing roads and developing agricultural enterprises in the Derry area.
Based on the Temple of Vesta in Italy, Mussenden Temple once held the Earl Bishop's library. It's perched right on the cliff edge, and the inscription reads 'Tis pleasant, safely to behold, from shore, the rolling ship and hear the tempest roar'.
Eight More Great Trips
Hillfoot Campsite Dungiven
This attractive site is situated inthe countryside a short distance from the small town of Dungiven in County Londonderry. The are lovely views of Benbraddagh Mountain and the Sperrin Mountain range. Mervyn, the friendly and helpful owner, keeps the place very clean and tidy. It doesn't surprise us at all that it gets consistently excellent reviews.
©2019 Anne Hargreaves
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge (locally pronounced carrick-a-reedy) is a famous bridge near Ballintoy, County Antrim. It links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede and spans 20 metres (66 ft) and is 30 metres (98 ft) above the rocks below. It was was first erected by salmon fishermen in 1755
All her life Kate declared she would never dare to cross Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. In her 71st year all that changed! She even took a video as she made her way across! By the time she was doing the return journey the weather had changed - it was raining heavily and it was quite windy, but she bravely stepped forward.